The Dark Fantastic carves moody, haunted songs out of the soundscape of psychedelic desert rock. The music produces a space that is at once a chronicle of the trials and tribulations of everyday middle Americans and a plunge into a world of emotional nomads: Lovers, wanderers, and killers that drift in and out of places and lives.
Mark Pickerel began the Dark Fantastic as his solo project while drumming in post-grunge Truly, a band that helped to define the Northwestern sound with their mind-bending full-length on Capitol Records, Fast Stories From Kid Coma. In 1997, after Truly's last record, Feeling You Up, Pickerel enlisted guitarist Jesse Roberts and bassist Mike Elkins to make the Dark Fantastic a full-blown band. Mark Pickerel's songwriting draws from his vast experience playing with the best musicians in the Pacific Northwest, including Kurt Cobain (check out Pickerel on the Nirvana box set Ain't It a Shame). The Dark Fantastic's 1999 self-titled debut draws on influences like Pink Floyd and Echo and the Bunnymen for a dark, somber pop sound. At the same time, it references Pickerel's early days with the Screaming Trees on the band's most brilliant forays into psychedelia, Even If and Especially When and Buzz Factory, as well as his more sobering work on old friend Mark Lanegan's solo albums. In 2000, Pickerel cut a record with Jim Carroll and joined Neko Case and Her Boyfriends. The touch of Neko Case's country can be heard on the Dark Fantastic's 2001 follow-up Goodbye Crooked Scar, where Mark Pickerel's Brian Wilson harmonies whisper through a far east-meets-west supernatural trip. ~ Charles Spano